Swiss vote to keep army guns at home

2011-02-13 22:57

Geneva - Switzerland, which has the highest rate of suicide by firearms in Europe, voted on Sunday to hold fast to its long-standing tradition of letting citizens keep army-issue weapons at home.

A referendum, launched by a coalition of non-governmental groups, religious authorities and centre-left parties, pushed to have the weapons stored in armouries instead.

The initiative also aimed to abolish the practice of allowing those on military service to keep their government-issue assault rifles even after they leave the army.

But the coalition failed to secure the votes of both a majority of the population and cantons.

Final results showed that 20 out of 26 cantons were against while 56.3% of the population rejected the initiative.

For any initiative to pass, the twin support of a majority of citizens and of cantons is required.

The practice of keeping arms at home was once a core part of the country's defence strategy, which was in part aimed at deterring an invasion with the threat that its citizens are combat-ready at any sign of trouble.

Proud shooting tradition

According to official data, about two million firearms are in circulation in this Alpine country of about seven million inhabitants. But there are an estimated 240 000 more unregistered weapons.

The Swiss ease with weapons is seen on the street and in railway stations, as young conscripts travel to and from military service nonchalantly carrying their semi-automatic rifle, with barely a glance from passers-by.

Switzerland's biggest political party - the far-right Swiss People's Party, said the rejection of the initiative is "the Swiss people's affirmation of their proud shooting tradition".

"A disarmed army is a weakened army. The Swiss people have recognised this. With today's no on the weapons initiative, they have clearly rejected those army abolitionists," it added in a statement.

Stop Suicide, which counted among groups that launched the initiative, said however that Switzerland "missed an opportunity to take targeted measures to reduce the number of suicides."

The group believes that the easy availability of weapons poses a danger particularly for suicidal people.

Rates of suicide using firearms in Switzerland are three times higher than in the rest of Europe, noted Anne-Marie Trabichet, from Stop Suicide.

Sufficient protection

Amnesty International also issued a statement saying that it is "regrettable that the majority of the Swiss population did not find that the place of a weapon is not at home."

Speaking following the results, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga reiterated the government's position that despite the no vote, "people are nevertheless protected from weapons abuse" through current regulations.

The government had campaigned against the initiative, explaining that "current legislation assures adequate and sufficient protection of the population against the abusive use of weapons".

It noted for instance, that it is no longer possible for citizens to trade freely in these weapons. The army also instructs servicemen to keep their weapons disassembled and not to divulge where they are hidden.

In addition, those who wish to can already store their weapons in armouries.

"I invite the people to use current possibilities, to give your weapons up. On this point, there are no differences between the government and those who launched the initiative - we agree that with a reduction of available weapons, we can lower the rates of fatal crime and suicide," said Sommaruga.

  • Oukaapje - 2011-02-13 23:27

    Same result a few years back in Brazil. But only after the News media were prevented from taking sides in the matter by law when their referendum was held. In some countries, the governments respect the rights of citizens to arm themselves against crime and foreign threat. Sadly, in Africa, the same rights are at risk across our continent. Only criminals are willingly armed with tax funded small arms by governments and corrupt officials. Our gangster governments want nothing less than the power of life and death over the law abiding taxpaying sector. Oukaapje.

  • Pragmatist - 2011-02-14 00:04

    BRAVO! That is how it should be. All citizens need to be armed and dangerous. @amnesty international... the most IMPORTANT place for a fire arm is at home! I am glad a country finally told you liberal, victim promoting loosers where to get off.

      Oukaapje - 2011-02-14 04:23

      The Brazilian referendum, 23 October 2005 on halting gun sales also sent a message to the civilian disarmers. 120 Million were compelled to vote, the govt. spent $215 million US on it, 64% voted No. Only 3% households had gun owners compared to the USA with 35%. High levels of gun violence with low rates of gun ownership had the gun controllers gleefully expecting a huge victory. It went completely the other way.

      Crimefree - 2011-02-14 13:46

      the Brazilian victory was because the media was compelled to present a balanced view and the NRA spent a fortune on advertising. It is all now forgotten and the gun controllers are unopposed hard at work making up for the loss by each day instilling reason to fear guns. The Swiss won a small victory now but lost to gun control. They have ammunition restrictions they have just accepted as nothing they can do. And gun control will win by small steps while we sleep and accept such loss. We don't have a clue of what we have to fight or how. No country has won against gun control in the long term because of that. 100% failure needs examination of why and leaders who know how to fight and fight to win. Object, keep objecting and make sure the public do not fear guns.

  • Mikemcc - 2011-02-14 06:08

    If you remove the weapons the method of suicide will simply change, it will not reduce the occurrence. The suicide rate is indicative of underlying problems, not free access to guns. Saying that they have the highest rate of firearm suicide means nothing without actual stats to indicate what the rate is.

  • Crimefree - 2011-02-14 07:39

    The Swiss like all people don't need to be armed, they must WANT to be armed and be willing to object to any incursion of that right and want. South Africans don't want to be armed. They have said so and agree the Firearms Control Act is a magnificent piece of legislation, all it needs is is fixing and they can help fix it.

      sasafari - 2011-02-14 07:49

      crimefree, and you have the statistics to back up your comment?? Or don't you want to confuse the issue with facts to the contrary?

      Bryan - 2011-02-14 09:20

      What a blatant lie, the FCA is nothing more than legalized victim disarmamanet of it's Citizenry. There have never been more submissions for a Second Amendement (Right to Keep and Bear Arms) of our own when the Consitution was drafted than any other and ALL other rights and issues COMBINED, and yet the voices of The People were never heard, those submissions never read by a corrupt and greedy Government hell bent on its power grab (and control of its Citizenry). You and your ilk of "gun-control" advocates and proponents have the blood of defenceless farmers and black and white Citizens who have no recourse to defend themselves against violent crime and multiple attackers because you would have Government limit the one basic, primal, inaliable God-given right to self-preservation and MEANS with which to protect it

      Neo - 2011-02-14 10:13

      It is my constitutional right to own a firearm, and I will. I also have the right to protect myself and my property. Imagine what would happen to a country with one of the highest violent crime rates in the world, should citizens not have the means to protect themselves.

  • WPWW - 2011-02-14 07:46

    Bravo, the liberal anti gun f?ckers put in their place. Switzerland has not been invaded in the last 2 wars, and crime is very small. people have an allergic reaction when it comes to guns, and its lies thayt have been spread in the media and pop culture. Guns are not bad, more good people have guns than bad people. If more good people had guns there would probably be less bad people... like in switzerland. A rifle is also the only weapon that can fight tyranny. An armed populous militia cannot be tyrannised.

      lmduplessis - 2011-02-14 12:24

      Not only the well armed populace, bt also the fact that Switzerland only has 2-3 narrow passes and some tunnels with which to enter a country has prevented any country from invading it. All those chokepoints are a NIGHTMARE for any general.

  • stevenonearth - 2011-02-14 07:56

    'of all the deeds of the british government, depriving an entire nation of arms, will be seen as its darkest' - Gandhi once you are disarmed, you are a subject to the king/government... never be disarmed. Switzerland ALSO HASS THE LOWEST crime-rate in the world, something this article doesnt report either. google 'gun control genocide' , all genocides are preceeded by gun-control Steve

  • jvandm - 2011-02-14 08:11

    Guns don't kill people, people kill people... People don't think: "Hey look, I have a gun, I might as well kill myself with it". If you are suicidal, you'll find another way of killing yourself if you don't have a gun.

      Bryan - 2011-02-14 09:24

      Exaclty, firearms are not some evil talisman that suddenly encourage people to shoot someone or to commit suicide. The article doesn't mention that of that suicide rate that is 3x higher than the rest of Europe, how many people (what percentage) actually kill themselves with a firearm versus other means. We also know that men are more likely to shoot themselves when suicidal only because it is an effective method, rather than overdose on pills which women (who are suicidal) are prone to do. This isn't about guns anyway.

  • fcocquyt - 2011-02-14 08:37

    People kill people not guns !!! The gun was just an easy to come by tool for Suicide take that away the person will still commit suicide using pills cutting wrists or whatever. Ban vehicles they kill over 10 000 people on our roads each year !! What a joke. To a gun law abidding owner it sounds just as ridiculous when poeple want to ban guns. The Swiss have almost no crime in their country, keep up the good pro gun work.

  • Bryan - 2011-02-14 09:08

    Good for the Swiss to keep a national heritage and national defense capability of her Citizenry. Only a free people can bear arms and they should exercise that right. This isn't about guns and reducing suicide (if there is a will there is a way and other methods are readily available), this is nothing but a smoke screen and "feel good" measure of propaganda by the Liberal Left to slowtly disarm the Swiss Citizenry, and if in generations to come those arms were not available and Switzerland overrun, where would Amnesty International be then? Same place they have always been, hiding behind a wall of smoke and mirrors diluting the rights of countries Citizenry around the world.

  • Piet - 2011-02-14 09:23

    Ek mis my êreen! Ou ou storie. Jy kan nie misdaad stop deur wettige wapens weg te vat nie. Die gee die misdadigers net groter kans vir misdaad. Klaar. Punt. In die begin van die diensplig stelsel het die eerste klomp hul wapens ook huis toe gevat. Dit is wel later ingegee. Die kommandolede en polisiereserviste het hulle wapens by hulle gehad. Daar was nooit enige misdaad of selfmoord by betrokke nie.

  • Big Mouth - 2011-02-14 10:00

    I would like nothing more than to be ready and waiting with my R5, when somebody tries to break into my house.

  • Crimefree - 2011-02-14 13:03

    sasafari what statistics are you not aware of? 700,000 deprived and nothing with any effect or credibility done. 830,000 deprived firearm destroyed and not one word spoken against that no attempt to prevent the only collateral those firearm owners had in two court cases from being destroyed. 90% of dealers gone 50% of firearm owners removed 900,000 firearm owners wait their turn to be sacrificed as well. 750,000 prospective firearm owners denied ownership by the unjust and unrequired FCA. The SAPS and governments war of terror on firearm owners never condemned, no objection raised. Firearm organisations have sacrificed all principles and most seek only to ensure money from the FCA. All have accepted the FCA and claimed with a million excuses there is noting they can do. The have destroyed all hope of any success and any faith anyone has in them of being anything but cowards. Bryan you are welcome to prove one word of the above is untrue. No amount of BS about 20 years ago can make up for stupidity of not understanding how this fight must be done. If your words are not heard you have two options run like a coward and make excuses or make your words heard. No firearm organisation has the right to abandon its principles because it lost a minor fight. Rights belong to only those who will protect them. Which firearm organisation is protecting my rights or yours?

  • jarryd.junkin - 2011-02-14 16:33

    Well the Swiss also have one of the highest atheist percentage in its population...

  • Dave - 2011-02-14 17:30

    Now if everyone in South Africa had a firearm in the house, just think what it would do to our crime stats. A few well publicized and successful 'self defense' situations and crime would reduce drastically.

  • Pragmatist - 2011-02-14 22:41

    If you want to make a difference, join up!!/group.php?gid=370373577109

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